Category Archives: Society

#BIRLove: DCC Hats off Cameroon’s BIR

13235513_1357761807573952_2594087851490947861_oLet’s begin by requesting we all do an act of kindness to at least one member of the Cameroonian Rapid Intervention Battalion ( BIR). If you own a restaurant, offer a free plate of food. If you are a driver, offer a free ride. If you sell recharge cards, offer air time. If you have lots of money (whether hard earned or embezzled), use some to pay them a visit, taking along goody bags and the list is endless. DCC has chosen to put out a call to all Cameroonians both home and abroad to do a direct act of kindess to at least one member of the BIR with the hashtag #BIRLove, as an appreciation for their services .Yes, they are just doing their job but this time they seem to be getting their job description right.

While appreciating the Cameroonian Military for their efforts against Boko Haram, I think I should mention this is the first time I have seen Cameroonians so united in support of the military. Without intending to spoil the party, until the advent of Boko Haram, most Cameroonians didn’t like the army due to ideologies fed by either stereotypes or personal experiences. However, the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. Before now, the image most people had of the Cameroonian military was quite negative. They responded to all forms of resistance including sit-down strikes with methods that were out of place. They ensured that selfish decisions from a few persons in power were diligently implemented by hook or crook. They intimidated civilians for personal benefits, etcetera. In fact, all the strikes I witnessed in Cameroon made me hate the military to my veins but today, I stand to reconsider my opinion of the military to some extent, while hoping this positive image of the military is not short-lived. Whether their relentless efforts towards Boko Haram has more to it than meets the eye or not, at least we are grateful they are protecting, not intimidating or molesting the citizens. Until now, the million dollar question was, ‘who is actually protecting the civilians?’

Contrary to popular police slogans around the world like ‘the Police is your friend and helper’ and ‘the police is your friend’, for a long time the Cameroonian military was literarily enemies with the Cameroonian people. Sometimes loved ones wondered how and why their relatives or friends drastically changed once they became part of the military. After talking with friends in the Ghanaian, British and American Militaries, a vivid comparison brings me to a conclusion that the Cameroonian military has problems with its quality and quantity. From training, equipping, numbers and organization, much still has to be done yet young lives are risking the odds to save the nation.

I will not want to go as far as comparing the Cameroonian Military with that of the West since we might argue the terrains are different. Let’s take a look at a fellow West African country like Ghana; there are trained lawyers, statisticians, political analysts, etcetera in the military. This makes it difficult for the government to shove just anything down the military’s throat. In Cameroon we have a military comprised of mostly people who haven’t realized who they are, and why they are into what they do; Very young and susceptible as their ages and society has molded them to be, yet expected to protect what they don’t really know or clearly understand. Recruiting  people to do the job of protecting national interests and nationals, will benefit a nation more if these persons are themselves knowledgeable about their choices  and are not cajoled to contrary views. The change we seek in Cameroon begins with an over haul of the military without which, we might just have the military continue working for the benefits of a select few rather than the entire nation.

The requirements, procedures and operations management of the military in Cameroon need re-examination. Recruits should already have a good education, or access to same. Carrying a gun and following orders irrationally should not be the only thing you do as a soldier. Major undiluted civics and ethics should be taught in the army. And above all, national progress and unity should be the driving force for all decisions within the military. I know these points are quite ambitious and might not be realized in the nearest future but if you ask me, a faster way to change in Cameroon is a change in the military.

This brings me to why DCC is calling on everyone to take part in the #BIRLove kind act call. If those in power can’t make the military realize serving the people is always a priority, then maybe our acts of kindness will do that. In recent times, the military has relatively been what we want them to be and we wish it stays that way. Have you grown to appreciate the BIR lately and wish that they continue protecting civilians? Then encourage them by doing an act of kindness. You might help make them reconsider being manipulated at any point in time. Share your pictures of #BIRLove on social media and get as many people as you can involved.

Let’s begin. #BIRLove.

Sasse ‘Murder’: Yes or No to Boarding Schools?

Sasse. 1Many parents, foster parents and soon to be parents, are beginning to reconsider the choice of a boarding school for their children  following the death of a form four student – Marius Awuma, at  Saint Joseph’s College Sasse, Buea – Cameroon. While it is alleged that this student was beaten to death by a lower sixth student, a statement from the above mentioned institution says the student died in a hospital after he fainted during sports. Unfortunately, at this point I can’t tell which narrative is true, given that we don’t have Marius to tell us what actually happened. This unfortunate incident made me do some serious thinking and soul searching as I examined the breathless body of this student in a picture.

I spent seven years in a boarding school quite similar to Sasse except for the fact that my school was a mixed one (comprising both male and female students) while Sasse is an all-boys school. Looking back at the time I spent in a boarding school, my first two years could be likened to the Ulwaluko rituals done by the Xhosa people of South Africa. I was taken to a hill, far away from family, friends and fun, to a place with arid cold, strange people, and a well-disciplined routine. It was pretty much like some adventure in the middle of nowhere. As was the case with most students, the first days at school were usually not fun at all. As time went by, we had no choice but to make new friends, enjoy the food – usually different from home food both in quality and quantity – while remembering the end goal was to go home with a good average score. Honestly, by form three, I began loving school so much that a three-month holiday sometimes felt so long; I missed my boarding mother, sisters, brothers and friends. By form four, the feeling was a mixed one. While I still enjoyed school and all that came with it, form four  students in my school traditionally experienced an extra form of ‘discipline’ from the newly elected student leaders –‘prefects’- who were lower sixth  students in my case. Being in form four in most boarding schools at the time was quite dreadful. The prefects generally ‘disciplined’ form four students with an iron fist. Form four students were generally expected to do the most tedious chores. The prefects bullied, starved and occasionally beat up the form four students more than the others. I can’t really give an explanation for the choice of the form four class but we were made to know it was a tradition and that was meant to be respected and upheld. If there was ever a year I struggled to find a reason not to return to my boarding school, it was definitely form four. Don’t ask me if the school authorities permitted corporal punished by students on other students. I guess it’s obvious the theoretical answer is NO!! However, somewhere in my guts, I knew there was some unwritten permission for some students to dish out corporal punishment on other students. My conclusion was based on the fact that, some prefects repeatedly got away with whatever they did to junior students. From lashes, to ‘sore backs’ (a rhythmic hit on a subordinate’s back with the palm(s) of your hand(s), exerted with force from a distance in order to inflict pain) and acts of torture coined ‘punishment’. Once that stage was over and I made it to form five, school felt like home again.

In my opinion, my boarding school contributed a lot to the person I am today; disciplined, punctual, adaptive, resistant, independent, organized etc. This made me promise myself; if it was up to me to decide, I will always want my children to have at least 3years of boarding school experience- at least the type of experience I had.

With the recent occurrence at Sasse, (worth mentioning this is not the first time it is happening in that same institution) I have seriously began to rethink the decision of sending a child to a boarding school. What actually happened? Is it that my school was quite different from the likes of Sasse? Is it that the students and the systems in boarding schools are no longer the same? Or this particular institution and the supposed lower sixth student were just unfortunate? Unfortunately, the form four student is dead and we all mourn him and frown at every act of brutality in boarding schools. From one of the narratives provided, it is said that this student was sick and had just returned from the hospital when he was beaten by the lower sixth student. Very few students who made it through high school in a boarding school will boast of not being guilty of at least pulling the ears of a junior student. In fact, I disciplined students sometimes but the question remains; how much discipline is too much?

This unfortunate situation brought a vivid picture to my mind of how I narrowly escaped a similar situation. My last year in my boarding school was quite fun. Of course that is when you enjoy maximum freedom and you have the luxury of ‘disciplining’ junior students after years of being ‘disciplined’. I was a prefect who went by the rules and expected everyone to do same. I literally punished with my right hand and gave out candies with the left hand. I occasionally gave lashes too. Yes I did, but not like I was whipping animals. Maybe I should mention too that I received an award for the student with the best leadership qualities in my badge. Not that I was a perfect prefect but I tried to avoid brutality as much as I could, which I guess paid off.

I remember asking a lower sixth student to choose between cleaning tables at the dining hall and receiving ‘sore backs’ from me as punishment for two crimes he committed and he chose ‘sore backs’. Usually, students will prefer cleaning the tables over ‘sore backs’ as the later were usually painful and embarrassing. For reasons I can’t explain till date, this lower sixth student chose ‘sore backs’. Fortunately for me, I was not in the mood for ‘sore backs’ that day so I insisted he clean the tables instead. Sometime later, I discovered this lower sixth student was constantly being rushed to the sick bay (on-campus health facility) or home for medical care. I was later made to understand he suffered from some heart-related problems. Away from being  melodramatic, I thought to myself, if this boy knew he suffered from heart problems, why did he insist I give him ‘sore backs’ which was definitely very dangerous for him taking into consideration his health situation? Exerting that amount of force on his back might have affected his heart. Hmmm this is the part where we say “God forbid”. Since then, I have never been so proud of myself for applying restraint.

Maybe Marius just returned from hospital as one of the narratives state and was still a convalescent, needing much care and precaution. Asking him to go jogging or beating him up only jeopardizes his health. These are grey areas not carefully taken into consideration in boarding schools. Children are different and their levels of resistance equally vary. These are peculiarities which cannot be properly handled in boarding schools where every child is expected to be treated equally with the same uniforms, eating routines, activities etc. Parents know their kids better. This event should therefore make more parents think seriously before sending their children to boarding schools. Boarding schools may be good for some but not good for others. I loved my seven years in a boarding school but I am not sure all my mates will say the same.

Sometimes, I wondered if parents know what actually happens in a boarding school before they send their kids in there or they actually know and just think, things like that will prepare their children for the real world. Alternatively, do parents just bundle their children and send them to boarding houses for the fame and acknowledgement that comes with it at their ‘njangi’ meetings, work places etcetera? For my sanity, I will want to guess most decisions to send children off to boarding houses are heavily uninformed.  Thus, I will want to think this generation of parents should know better. Not that boarding schools are bad, but making an informed decision is better than making an uninformed one. While I still have more time to decide on whether a Yay or Nay for a boarding school, I will want to urge parents and stake holders of boarding schools to begin brainstorming on a way forward for boarding schools in order to avoid a recurrence of such events. Needless to mention that boarding houses may face a decline in enrolment if things like this do no get appropriate attention or are not resolved properly. The institution concerned in this case may say whatever they want in their defense especially as Marius is not here to give his own account, but one thing is certain; God sure knows exactly what happened and He knows how best to deal with anyone involve in the actual act or in its cover up. RIP Marius, my condolences to your family. A mother sends her son to school and later receives his corpse…goshhh!!! I will not wish this even for my enemy.

THE WORLD AND ITS PEOPLE

The world and its people!

When I turn to my left or right

All I hear or see is chaos,

I turn on the radio or television stations

All I hear or see are famine, wars and rumours of wars.

 

The world and its people!

When I look at the world leaders

At loggerheads with each other,

I wonder if there will ever be peace and serenity in this world.

 

When I read some of the bills or the laws passed,

I ask myself, Is this what freedom is all about?

Did the creator make a mistake to give us the freewill to choose?

Oh, the world and it’s people!

 

I thought colonialism was over,

But that was a fatal mistake it was just rephrased and restructured.

Even after the so called independence

Nations are still suppressing other nations.

 

Rhetorical questions I keep asking myself,

Who made one human to think he is superior over the other?

Are we not all going to rot and return to dust someday?

How my heart bleeds

For this world and it’s people.

By

InsingWung

2015

Non-standard Vox Pop: Do you plan on relocating to Cameroon within the next 10years?

CamGerIt is common knowledge in Germany that, migrants of Cameroonian descent are one of the most educated set in Germany. Most of them have very good Grade Points, very good jobs, and are well respected by their peers of both German and non-German descent. As good as it may feel to identify with this set of people who seem to have created a positive image for themselves in ‘another man’s land’, I often can’t help but imagine what Cameroon will look like if all the great people I meet out here decide to relocate to Cameroon.

According to figures from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) or the German Technical Cooperation, more than 20,000 migrants of Cameroonian descent now live in Germany .Within this lot are both students and professionals in the fields of Engineering, Medicine, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Communication, Finance, Law, Sports, Languages and Culture amongst others. One can only imagine what a great nation Cameroon will be if these great minds decide to relocate. That said, it is also wise to acknowledge that, the degree to which the Cameroonian diaspora in Germany can succeed in influencing development in Cameroon depends not only on the migrants themselves, but on many other variables. Significant influencing factors include the country’s political regime, specific policies concerning the diaspora, investment conditions, corruption and security. The influence of the Cameroonian diaspora is directly dependent on whether or not the government seeks to cooperate with it and how it structures such cooperation.

Talking to some Cameroonians in Germany, the thought of all the above mentioned influencing variables makes most of their aspirations of relocating die even before they are born. Coming from this place of frustration, I decided to do a quick street poll. I made use of a non- standard vox pop which sought to know if migrants of Cameroonian descent in Germany plan to relocate to Cameroon within the next 10 years. As requested by most of the respondents, names were withheld and only initials used.

Question: Do you plan on relocating to Cameroon within the next 10years? If yes, why?, If no, why not?

N.F.N is a Clinical Research Associate in a contract organization that plans and executes clinical trials in Europe and USA. She said: “I don’t plan on returning to Cameroon in the next 10 years. The main reason for this decision is linked to my career. Cameroon as we know is an underdeveloped country. Judging from the little progress or should I say retrogression Cameroon has experienced in every sector in the last 25 years or so, I think it is safe to say that Cameroon’s economy will be nowhere close to average in the next 30 years. Someone said, development will actually only begin in 30 years’ time. Now, because I love my career and plan on pursuing it to the top, going back to Cameroon will be counterproductive”.

-E.T.F is in Germany for family reasons and will be pursuing a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering. She said: “Yes, because it is Home. I have three main reasons:

  1. Pride: I think it is utterly vain to make another man’s land home simply because it offers me a more comfortable and secure lifestyle. Yes, I am proud like that. I do not care how problematic Cameroon is, it is still my home and I am proud of it. I will not run away from it.
  2. Need: Cameroon needs me more than any other country does. Over the years I have acquired skills and knowledge from foreign countries, but the truth is I have little to contribute to these countries compared to what I can contribute to mine. Regardless of how much impact I may manage to have abroad, it would be a shame to have none in Cameroon.
  3. Duty: Europeans, Americans or Asians will not be the ones to address and solve African problems in a sustainable way. It is the responsibility of Africans to help Africa. It is my duty to return home with knowledge and skill for my country’s benefit. It is the “patriotic” thing to DO”.

 

T.A works part time with the Machine Manufacturing sector while pursuing graduate studies in Mechanical Engineering. He said: “Mostly Yes, and may be No. Mostly yes, because I cherish the socio-cultural climate in Cameroon. I like the community life, the system of education, family life, freedom of religion and expression, simplicity of life and the cultural diversity. I like the flexibility that women have to be mothers while maintaining a career. The natural environment of Cameroon and the great potential (mostly still to be exploited) that Cameroon has to offer is of great appeal to me and I feel that I can make contributions to the exploitation of the numerous resources Cameroon has.

May be no, partly because of the political and socio-economic situation in Cameroon.  As much as I cherish Cameroon, I also cherish being an engineer. The present political and economic situation in Cameroon is not very enticing for engineers like me and 10 years seems too short to overcome and transform the political and economic climate and make it favorable for the engineering sector. I do however hope that in 15-25 years, Cameroon will be in good shape politically and economically and I would definitely want to go back there. But the most important reason why I might stay in Germany for the next 10 years is because my partner is German and she may need some more time to transition into life in Cameroon”.

-A.F.T is a Risk Management Consultant. He said: “Yes I plan to relocate to Cameroon in the next 10 years. I traveled to Germany to get education, work and make money. I believe I have been educated well enough such that I can contribute to my home country or to the African continent. The work I do here in Germany is appreciated but I believe working in Cameroon would be a more substantial contribution. Besides I would love to spend more time with family and loved ones”.

-A.T is doing Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. He said: “I do not see myself moving to Cameroon in the next ten years for a couple of reasons. First, I would like to work and earn some money in Germany in order to be financially secured as companies in Germany pay way better than the ones in Cameroon. Also, finding a job in Germany would not be as cumbersome as it would be in Cameroon where people have to pay huge amounts of bribe just to secure lucrative jobs (in most cases). Most importantly, I hope to acquire work experience from a renowned German company that I can take home when I finally decide to relocate. I’m particularly passionate about entrepreneurship with the primary intention of giving back to the society through job creation. This requires capital, part of which I hope to get from savings from my monthly wages”.

-V.N.K is in Germany for family reasons and she is in the final phase of her Masters in Journalism and Media within Globalization-A European perspective. She said: “Yes. I plan to settle in Cameroon in the next ten years. Not because I am happy about the politico-social aspects of the country but because I want to be a part of the change that I would love to see happen back home. I am convinced that, if given a chance, the youth of Cameroon can make things happen. Many of us have been out here and have seen the way things operate. We can adapt this knowledge for use in the development of our country. This, we cannot do if we remain abroad. So I am here, yes, but I owe my contributions towards the development of Cameroon. I hope and pray that things get better but even if they don’t, home is home and I must return”.

-G.T.A is pursuing a Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering. He said: “I initially wanted to go back in 2 or three years after my studies, but that is changing now. The possibility of me being here for more than 10 years is more and more feasible. First my studies are taking a little longer than expected. Secondly, I am   beginning to feel more and more comfortable with (or used to) the environment here. Also, I personally want to face the challenge of making it here before exploring the other possibilities. This includes going back to Cameroon.”

Well, I will not say this sample is 100% representative. However, this gives an idea of what could be operational on the ground. It is more recurrent to find those who don’t plan on going back in 10 years outnumbering those who do. Of course there seems to be diverse reasons for their decisions with the most predominant being the unattractive political and socio-economic conditions back home. Call it cowardice or irresponsibility, but again, it is only an unwise builder who embarks on a building project without counting the cost. That notwithstanding, home is home. Fixing it needs combined efforts which of course can only be realized in an accommodative environment. Away from just a cliché, it is the government’s role to make home accommodative for its citizens. If we dream of an emerging Cameroon then the government should cooperate with its citizens to make this happen, without which the brain drain cry will continue day in and day out.

SOBA Foundation talked Empowerment, Migration and Unity

Soba p 1In the heart of this year’s nostalgic summer, SOBA ( Sasse Old Boys Association) Germany last weekend organized a People Empowerment Forum in Essen- Germany, to meticulously derive a road map to enhance their participation in mitigating some challenges in Africa .The forum had well defined focus areas stemming from contemporary challenges the African continent is facing. They deliberated on what could be done with respect to empowering individuals both within and without their immediate communities. They sought to identify possible causes of illegal migration as a route to handling migration challenges, and also stressed the need for unity, if any of these steps in the right direction will be transformed from abstract to tangibles.

Subsidiary discussions at the forum touched on possible options to promote the Cameroonian Culture, facilitate Developmental Cooperation between Germany and Cameroon, and support individuals/institutions actively involved in the Development of the African continent. The event’s panelists also emphasized the need to strengthen cooperation between Diaspora groups as a key antidote in handling challenges surrounding pertinent issues like Migration, Refugees Crisis and Diaspora projects.

Out in “another man’s land”, some people including members the SOBA Foundation surely still uphold a sense of loyalty to people and issues associated to their country of origin. SOBA Foundation Germany is a group of well groomed, neatly put together, charismatic men with a vision to strengthen cooperation between Diaspora Groups in their community for the benefit of their continent of origin-Africa. The association is compose of ex-students from the St. Joseph’s College Sasse, Buea – Cameroon, who are currently living in Germany. Generally, referred to as an elitist institution, the St. Joseph’s College Sasse, popularly called “Sasse” is without reservation, a renowned High School in Cameroon which raises young men with self-assertiveness and resilience as evident in the institutions products even decades after High School days.

From diverse works of life, ranging from the fields of Engineering, Communication, Health to Business and Finance, the SOBANS converged in their “uniform”(well fitted black trousers, white shirts, black coats and bow ties), all looking alike as obtained back in their High School days where they made their first steps towards becoming today’s men. Minimizing their age differences and maximizing their goals as a team, they mobilized human and financial resources to make the event top notch.

The event was of course not void of typical Cameroonian merry making reunion traits. It was punctuated with Cameroonian snacks, food and drinks, and later capped with a Gala Night which left those present with so much to reminisce about. With massive support from their countrymen and well-wishers from diverse origins, the event was definitely not just another convention but one with much substance on their list of conventions.sobba